If you are exposed to poison ivy, you should take steps to prevent the urushiol from penetrating the skin by doing the following, recommended by the FDA:
- First, cleanse exposed skin with generous amounts of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. (Don't return to the woods or yard the same day. Alcohol removes your skin's protection along with the urushiol and any new contact will cause the urushiol to penetrate twice as fast.)
- Second, wash skin with water. (Water temperature does not matter; if you're outside, it's likely only cold water will be available.)
- Third, take a regular shower with soap and warm water. Do not use soap before this point because "soap will tend to pick up some of the urushiol from the surface of the skin and move it around,"
- Clothes, shoes, tools, and anything else that may have been in contact with the urushiol should be wiped off with alcohol and water. Be sure to wear gloves or otherwise cover your hands while doing this and then discard the hand covering.